7 Interesting Asian American and Pacific Islander Library Collections

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by visiting these fascinating library archives in person or online.

Learn about AAPI culture by exploring digital and in-person collections.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. What better way to celebrate than to explore AAPI library archives across the country? There are numerous collections containing materials related to myriad aspects of AAPI culture and history, including these. Note that some are open to the public, many have online access, but others may require an appointment to visit in person.

1. Library of Congress: AAPI Collection

A great place to start is the AAPI collection at the Library of Congress (LOC), which is located in multiple places within the LOC. The Manuscript Division contains diaries, photos, interviews, correspondence, and speeches from notable AAPI authors, scholars, activists, and authors. The American Folklife Center holds the AAPI miscellaneous community collection, which is comprised of folklore, stories, and other culturally relevant pieces.


Sign the pledge to vote for libraries!


2. New York University: Asian/Pacific/American Institute

A newer institution is New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute, which holds collections including personal and business papers from prominent Asian Americans, a library focused on books by and about AAPI people, various forms of art produced by members of the AAPI community, and Japanese American newspapers (among many other types of holdings).

3. University of California Berkeley Library: Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

The University of California’s Berkeley Library houses the country’s largest archives focused on Asian American and Asian Diaspora materials. The overall archive contains more than one hundred archival collections of various aspects of Asian American and Asian immigrant life, including newsletters, newspapers, booklets, and pamphlets produced by Asian American community organizations, and news clippings regarding Asian American history, politics, arts, and community.


Take action today to support libraries!


4. Chicago Public Library: Korean American Archives Project

Chicago Public Library has three specific archives related to AAPI history and culture. The Korean American Archives Project documents the history of Korean Americans in Chicago, including papers, photos, family and personal items, booklets, and Korean newspapers. The Japanese American Directories is a collection of directories published by the Nichi Bei Times, listing businesses and residents of Chicago and other cities. The Forced Migration Photovoice Project documents stories from people who landed in Chicago through forced migration.

5. University of Nevada Las Vegas: Asian, Pacific Islander, & Middle Eastern (APIME) Heritage Month Resources

The University of Nevada Las Vegas has extensive Asian, Pacific Islander, & Middle Eastern (APIME) collections documenting the history of those groups in Las Vegas and Nevada, including their involvement with Las Vegas’ extensive entertainment industry. There’s also a collection of photos of the Tomiyasu family, a prominent Japanese American farming family in Las Vegas for more than forty years.


Sign the petition to show that Americans love their libraries!


6. Houston Public Library and Rice University: Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA)

In Houston, Houston Public Library and Rice University both offer archives focused on the rapid growth of the local AAPI population during the twentieth century. The bulk of the archive is oral interviews that document the lives and contributions the immigrants made to the community. The public library offers live programming for AAPI month, including dance, music, poetry readings, and a fashion show.

7. The Claremont Colleges Library: Asian Library

California’s The Claremont Colleges Library has an Asian Library within its overall library. Its holdings include rare books, manuscripts, maps, photos, and other artifacts from China, Japan, and Korea, and the library is working to expand the geographical reach of its archives to South, Southeast, and Western Asia.

As always, libraries remain dedicated to maintaining and providing depth and breadth of all aspects of the world we live in. If you’re not near any of these libraries, check with your neighborhood library — you might be surprised what they can help you access.



Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries. 

#librarymarketers: Enjoy this story? Want to use it for your library newsletter, blog, or social media? This article is published under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International and is free to edit and use with attribution. Please cite EveryLibrary on medium.com/everylibrary.

This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0